On May 3rd the Habitat International Coalition – in cooperation with the Institute of Habitation at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (University of Chile)- presented for the first time in Chile their book „Cities for all“ to approximately 70 attendees who came to the library of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (University of Chile). After the opening words of the moderator Claudio Pulgar (INVI) the book editors, Ana Sugranyes and Charlotte Mahivet, spoke. Henry Renna (Movimiento de Pobladores en Lucha, Movement of Dwellers in Struggle) and Patricia Boyco (SUR Corporación) also commented on the book.
Claudio Pulgar emphasised in his opening words the importance of the struggle for the right to the city as a struggle for social justice. To create a new city means to create a new society. Ana Sugranyes retook this point in her presentation of HIC’s work of as „politics for achieving a good life“, which as a networkHIC is supporting and also initiating. HIC is permanently in a process of exchange of political experiences between social movements worldwide for the right to the city, land rights, for a dignified and just habitat, for gender equality – for a well-being.
Charlotte Mathivet gave an overview about the issues and objectives of the book: Itis about access to the city, a gender perspective, the concrete struggles against marginalisation and evictions –a heavy form of violation of the right to the city – and the political initiatives for the right to the city, which are showing us how to concretely implement this right. Charlotte explained that the objectives of the book include among others the diversity of the activities, the feedback between social actors, as well as the reflection of the relationship of theory and practice.
Henry Renna, who is one of the authors in the book, commented that the book gathers experiences, practices, perspectives and initiatives saying ‘Another city is possible’. „For a lot of us the city is every day more unequal and exclusive“ and therefore we have to ask what kind of city we want and how to change it. Following Henry’s opinion, the right to the city can be realized by the practice of self-management. Relating to the right to the city/to habitat, self-management means that the production process lies in the hands of the ‘pobladores’ (dwellers). Self-management can also be understood as „the transformation of life“, as he summarized.
Patricia Boyco commented the book with the words: „It is an activists’ book.“ It is a challenge that the right to city contains such diverse principles. As an example she mentioned the post-earthquake situation in the city of Talca. After the total privatisation of the reconstruction process and given the absence of political planning, those affected who lived in the city center before the earthquake are to be resettled to the outskirts –a heavy violation of the right to the city. In Talca and other cities, a citizens’ movement has been formed demanding a just and participative reconstruction – which can also be understood as the right to the city.
The talks were followed by a lively discussion: Activists, students, academics and others commented on the presentations and offered their interpretations of the right to the city and shared their own political experiences. A participant pointed out that the right to the city would be equal to the right to the society. Another said that the right to the city means „how to construct and reconstruct a different space. “ An interesting and important aspect which a discussion participant emphasised was that the right to the city is not given by the state, the government or other authorities. It is in fact a right that has to be fought for, and that has to be produced and updated in a social process.
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